Over the weekend news broke that producer of the 84th Academy Awards producer Brett Ratner had selected Eddie Murphy as his first choice to host the upcoming Oscar ceremony. The Hollywood Reporter reports that contrary to some initial rumors, the decision is not yet final and Ratner will be meeting with Academy president Tom Sherak this week before an Oscar host is announced.
This hosting decision should come as little surprise considering that when he first got the job Ratner emphasized that one objective of this year’s telecast would be to celebrate comedy and the pair are working together on the upcoming film Tower Heist. Murphy is a brash comedian whose loud and fast-paced style seems very in tune with the style we have come to know from Brett Ratner. Many would argue that he may not be the ideal choice to host the Oscars because he has been mostly absent from the big screen as of late besides vocal acting performances in the feature films and various shorts of the Shrek franchise. However, I suspect he might be a pretty good choice to host the Oscars and here are three reasons why:
3 Reasons Why Eddie Murphy Might be a Great Oscar Host
1) His stand-up work is excellent.
The best way to judge somebody’s ability to host an Awards ceremony is to look at times in the past when they have inhabited a stage on their own. With Murphy we can look at his stand-up comedy, which even in recent years has been excellent. His stand-up special RAW is one of the most imitated specials in the last three decades. He uses impersonations, racial issues, and quick one-man show style dialogue to fully inhabit the stage with some excellent comedy. He is notoriously vulgar, which would have to be reigned in, but his timing is impeccable and with the assistance of good writers he could have some great lines.
Watch the below video clip from RAW and imagine him doing a similar re-enactment of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’d love to see him sarcastically commenting on the suburban white issues played out in The Descendants.
2) He will make fun of the stars.
One of the reasons last year’s hosting duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco were a disaster was because they were too nice. Anytime they would make a joke at the expense of another A-lister they would laugh and apologize on stage. Golden Globe host Ricky Gervais on the other hand will fearlessly attack any star in the audience without reservation. Murphy will likely be closer to Gervais, although probably with a little more taste. Unlike Gervais, Murphy seems to actually care what his peers think of him and as a previous Oscar nominee, he likely does view Awards ceremonies with some esteem. However, do not expect any apologies from him when he points out that certain celebrities enjoy doing drugs or are overweight.
3) He can sing.
Most agree that one of the better Oscar ceremonies of the last decade was in 2009 when producer Bill Condon opted for singing/dancing actor Hugh Jackman in lieu of the usual comedian choice. The musical numbers that featured cameos from various guests in the room were among the highlights of the night. At this year’s Tony Awards, Neil Patrick Harris owned the show with his musical numbers. Something about a musical number at an Awards ceremony adds instant comedy and class to the evening. Luckily, Eddie Murphy can definitely sing as exhibited in his various albums and his Oscar-nominated performance in Dreamgirls. If Ratner is smart enough to give him a musical number it could be fantastic.
Given those three reasons I will admit that I do have my reservations about Eddie Murphy as the host of my favorite night of the year. He really is a wild card, so it is unclear if he might excel or not. To contrast the above list here are three reasons why I withhold my complete excitement.
3 Reasons Why Eddie Murphy Might Not be a Great Oscar Host
1) He doesn’t like the Oscars.
In 2007 when Eddie Murphy lost the Best Supporting Actor Oscar to Alan Arkin at the beginning of the ceremony he promptly got up with his entourage and left the Kodak Theatre. This either indicates that he is a very sore loser or he does not take the Academy Awards very seriously. The walking out incident was pretty well publicized ensuring that Murphy would not likely be up for an Award anytime soon. Does Murphy still hold a grudge against the Academy and would that negativity be reflected in his hosting gig?
2) Recent Murphy work has been pathetic.
Above I embedded a video of Murphy at his comedic peak when he was one of the greatest stand-ups, a frequent cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” and starring in classic movies like Beverly Hills Cop. Since then Murphy’s career has gradually descended downhill and his recent filmography includes stinkers like Meet Dave, Shrek Forever After, and Norbit. It has been years since we’ve seen anything from Murphy that resembled the quality of his work in the 1980s and he may have lost his touch.
3) Ratner style Murphy could be bad.
Even if Murphy is at the top of his game, he needs good direction in order for things to come together. Director Brett Ratner is certainly not known for his restraint and with Murphy at the head of his Oscar telecast there is the risk of things becoming embarrassingly over the top. Hopefully good writers prevent that from happening.
The official word on whether or not Murphy will be hosting the Oscars will come this week so stay tuned for more information.
What are your thoughts on Eddie Murphy hosting the 84th Academy Awards ceremony?